Too many people are too fearful they know too little. So they shy away from gymnastics, one of CrossFit’s foundations. And that’s just plain wrong.When most people think of gymnastics, they think of Nadia Comaneci. But gymnastics is really nothing more than body movement. For CrossFit, gymnastics is a series of skills and drills used in WODs.There is no real reason to substitute dips and pull ups for muscle ups. It’s just a matter of learning the progressions to the muscle up.
Learning to train using static apparatus such as stationary dip bars and pull-up bars versus the dynamic plane provided by rings will allow you to come to know your body through stabilization and strength and thus develop the areas you are weakest in. Positioning yourself in a dynamic environment like the rings requires remarkable strength, focus, and attention to the details of proper form. Accordingly, the benefits are immeasurable. You will learn that there are many ways to skin a cat and become fit and well-rounded, and that there are many ways to scale these progressions to make them gradually accessible to almost anyone.
Another salient issue in teaching and learning gymnastics elements is knowing when to say when. Sometimes you need to pull back (or pull your clients back) and show them that they have yet to master the intricacies of a skill they are training, even when they seem to have the basics under their belt. In my opinion, teaching people to accept repetition and gradual progress in training these skills is one of the hardest ideals to impart to people. Everyone wants the skill right now. (Greg Glassman decries this “novice’s curse” in his inspiring essay “Fundamentals, Virtuosity, and Mastery.”) Clients and trainers alike need to know and learn that gymnastics elements take time and practice, lots and lots of practice. Lots. This especially applies to the fittest CrossFitters—those who are accustomed to pushing beyond normal endurance levels, who sometimes go until they drop. Yes, mastering this stuff takes hard work, but you can’t bring it into being by sheer force. It also takes patience and incrementalism. It’s OK to take a break to analyze and work out issues in your head before attempting moves that you have yet to master. And it’s OK—unavoidably necessary, in fact—to build gradually, mastering one step in a progression before rushing on to the next one.